Brazil shares a border with every country in South America save two. In other words, it’s massive, which helps explain the incredible diversity of food. There are seafood stews, like moqueca, from the 4,500-mile coastline, and churrasco from the cowboys who spit-roast meats in the south. And then there’s the dish that’s as central to Brazilian identity as joga bonito (soccer played beautifully) – feijoada, a slow-simmered bean and meat stew served with farofa (ground cassava root). Thanks to the more than 70,000 Brazilians living in NYC, you can experience the variety and quality for yourself at buffets and churrascarias across the city. But for the best of the best, you’ll need to head to the 15 spots on this guide.
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Berimbau is the best Brazilian restaurant in NYC. This narrow West Village spot separates itself in the details. They offer farofa with dende oil to match the flavors and consistency of the moqueca, while serving a bowl of bacon-studded farofa with the meat-heavy feijoada. That feijoada is packed with pork that has the pull-apart texture you’d expect from stewed meat, but with the bark and smoke rings you’d find after a slow-cook in a smoker. Before ordering a basket of stress ball-sized pão de queijo in the garden out back, stop at the curbside bar, and pick up a fantastic, not-too-sugary caipirinha.
Since Via Brasil opened in 1978, it’s watched the number of Brazilian shops and restaurants in Little Brazil shrink to a small handful, and it’s had to put up with Argentina winning a World Cup (and another). But for how much things have changed around it, Via Brasil seems unfazed. Come on a weekend, and you’ll hear live Brazilian jazz at a grand white piano in the middle of the white-tableclothed dining room. Formal servers fill wine glasses after theatrically lifting lids off steaming mini-cauldrons of feijoada in front of you. That feijoada is rich enough to make up for the lack of space heaters (if you sit on the streetside patio), and it comes with an extra side of beans so you can adjust the liquid-solid ratio to your liking. Use some of the rice and farofa as a mop to soak up the juices from the garlicky picanha, and if anyone tells you that’s against the rules, remind them how Argentina got that second World Cup.
If all-you-can-eat dining experiences make you think of breakfast buffets in Vegas, you might be hesitant to pay $69 for one in Hell’s Kitchen. But replace lukewarm pancakes with glistening ribeyes and bacon-wrapped filet mignon, and you’ll change your tune. For proof, head to Churrascaria Plataforma. Opt for the rodizio (all-you-can-eat), and the barrage of grilled meats will continue as long as you leave your coaster green-side-up. You’ll also have access to the salad and feijoada bars inside the stadium-sized restaurant, but make sure to save space for a couple rounds of the leg of lamb before you flip your coaster red-side-up. It’s salty and juicy, yet charred and incredibly gamey, and it’s the best thing here.
The supporting actors outshine the A-listers at Beija Flor in LIC. Sure, we’d happily eat a bucket of the chicken coxinha, but dip them in the bright, herb-filled mayo, and you’ll nearly forget about their crispy shells and juicy chicken. The picanha is perfectly grilled, but the flavor of the meat plays third fiddle to the smell coming off the sizzling skillet, and the best yuca fries in the city. And the feijoada is smoky and full of fatty meat, but somehow, the collard greens on the side end up being one of the most memorable things here. One main character that can command the colorful, hanging flower-covered room on its own is the moqueca, which has a slightly sweet broth you’ll drink straight from the bowl (or pour over an extra side of rice).
Like Gabriel Medina and backside surfing, this Soho bakery focuses on one thing that few others choose to prioritize: brigadeiros. And just as it paid off for Medina with the first Pipeline win by a goofy-footer in two decades, this Soho bakery can claim the best bite-sized chocolate truffles in the city. Mix and match any of the 20 or so flavors displayed in the glass case at the front of the small storefront, but one that’s non-negotiable is coconut. Inside the paper-thin shell coated in coconut flakes, there’s a blend of condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter, all of which changes from solid to liquid the instant you take a bite.
In a Darth Vader paternity test-level surprise, the pão de queijo is not the thing to get at this all-day spot in Astoria. Instead, your focus should be on the burger. Since there are 15 burgers on the very long menu, we’ll specify that the X Brazil needs to be part of your order. Between multiple layers of juicy picanha, there are pieces of salty linguica and crispy bacon, as well as cheese, corn, and a fried egg. Split one, along with the massive, thick-shelled coxinha filled with cheese and chicken, at a table on the streetside patio out front.
Mix some rice and farofa with the juices from the feijoada or stewed oxtail at Kilo, and you’d be perfectly happy without an ounce of meat. You’d also be happy with nothing but meat, especially if you pick it up from the BBQ station in the back, where you can order tender top sirloin and juicy chicken hearts by the pound. But for how good the food is, what really separates this Astoria spot from other Brazilian buffets is its full bar, which you can enjoy while watching soccer on TV inside, or at a table on the curbside patio out front.
All of the sugar and lime in the caipirinhas at Favela Grill in Astoria make it so you don’t really notice the heavy pours of cachaça. The cocktails are excellent, and worth the distinct possibility that you’ll be seeking out some Gatorade 12 hours later. No matter what you drink here, though, a few things need to be on your table, like carne seca covered in sauteed onions, and thick moqueca packed with big pieces of tender fish. Come with a date, and choose your table based on the knowledge that the live bossa nova playing in the corner is quite loud.
Is tapioca – the gluten-free, fat-free source of the crepes at TAP – a “healthy superfood,” as it says inside this bright Upper West Side Cafe? We have no reason to doubt it. Now, whether that still holds when you stuff them with steak and cheese or Nutella and banana, is another story. Regardless, they’re delicious. Despite disintegrating when you bite into it, the mild tapioca shell holds a lot of substantial ingredients inside, like housemade pulled pork and pineapple chutney, or stretchy queijo coalho and juicy tomatoes.
When the pão de queijo were torn apart at our table outside Casa, and the steam rising from them temporarily made Bedford Street smell like a cheese factory, someone at our table asked, “Why do other bar snacks even exist?” The crispy-outside, doughy-inside, parmesan-everywhere versions at this small West Village spot are phenomenal. After a couple orders of those, and the salgadinho sortidos – an appetizer sampler that includes coxinha and various types of croquettes – move on to the xinxim de galinha with tender chicken in rich shrimp sauce, and the bobo de camarão that’s like a richer (better) version of the moqueca here.
Say that you know of a Brazilian spot in Williamsburg with live music, sidewalk seating, and caipirinha-filled brunches, and you’re likely to get interrupted with stories about late nights dancing at Miss Favela. That is, unless you also mention that the place you’re talking about serves Brazilian food worth crossing a bridge for. Then it’ll be clear you’re talking about Beco. Whether you come for brunch, lunch, or dinner, start with the pão de queijo or chicken and cheese coxinha, and then focus on the sandwiches, like the bauru, which comes with juicy filet mignon covered in mayo and melted cheese.
“You’ll have nobody to blame but yourself.” It’s what your mother might say to you every time you’re in danger of missing a flight, and it’s what you should tell yourself if you don’t get the feijoada at Aroma Brazil. Like all of the ready-to-eat dishes at this Jackson Heights spot, it’s available as part of a DIY buffet. So if you prefer your feijoada smoky and meaty, you can fill your plate with fatty beef and sausage that snaps when you bite into it, or if you want a lighter version, then bypass the meat for an extra dousing of the sweet, acidic broth. Either way, make a pitstop at the churrasco station in the back, and hope that they have beef ribs spinning over the grill.
Hell has frozen over, pigs are flying, and we’re telling you not to order pão de queijo. While we’re at it, you should also skip the calabresa and stroganoff at this seven-table spot in Hell’s Kitchen. You’ll find better examples of those dishes at most of the places on this guide, but what you won’t find is feijoada like the version here. The five types of meat – bacon, sausage, pork ribs, pork shoulder, and carne seca – give off so much flavor that even just the stew-soaked rice seems engineered to provide a full churrasco experience in every bite.
Fogo de Chão is an international chain where you’ll find a $25 shrimp cocktail served in a massive Midtown space that feels like the set from a Michael Bay-directed Oceans 14. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way – you should go to Fogo de Chão. Specifically, you should go with people who really like meat, and everyone should do the $70 churrasco experience. Once you sit down with a plate of feijoada and sides, round after round of filet mignon, pork and beef picanha, and a dozen other meats will arrive on spits ready to be sliced onto your plate, cooked to whatever doneness you prefer.
Show up to this Astoria Brazilian spot on a random day and there’s a 96.7% chance that you’ll leave feeling like the feijoada and linguica could’ve been saltier, or you should’ve opted for extra picanha instead of the beef rib. But come on the first Saturday of the month and you’ll leave feeling like you know exactly where you’ll be 30 days from now. You’ll be back at Point Brazil for their next “Taste of Bahia” monthly special, when the two sister-owners cook a bunch of dishes from their native Bahia in northeastern Brazil. That includes fantastic, filling acarajé – a deep-fried black-eyed pea fritter stuffed with shrimp, bacalao, and vatapá (a rich, creamy, seafood-y paste) – for $6, and a sampler plate with vatapá, moqueca, and okra gumbo.